269 children and 60 elderly detected Covid-19 positive

269 children and 60 elderly detected Covid-19 positive

This is worrisome when children and elderly are tested positive, says the Health Minister

A total of 269 children and 60 elderly across the country are among those detected Covid-19 positive during this fourth lockdown (as of yesterday).

This was divulged by Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo while updating the nation about the scenario of Covid-19 in the country yesterday.

“This is worrisome when children and elderly are tested positive,” Lyonpo said, adding that it was worrying with the upsurge in Omicron cases in the country and around 129,000 children below the age of 11 years in the country being unvaccinated.

Comparing the Omicron virus transmissibility, the minister said that the health ministry found a high of eight people testing positive in one day during the earlier lockdowns, but now around 180 positive cases are emerging in each day.

“Today there are more than 2,000 active cases in isolation wards in the country. Of which more than 260 are children below 11 years of age and more than 60 are elderly,” Lyonpo said, adding that three COVID patients in Phuentsholing Hospital, who are with underlying medical conditions and are in serious conditions, are all above 65 years old.

According to a member of the MoH’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Dr. Sithar Dorjee, around 37% of the total population are children who are not vaccinated, despite the vaccine being highly effective.

“It is a misconception to consider the Omicron variant as less severe,” he said, adding that taking the variant lightly will be costly as the current variant in the country is highly infectious.

He shared that if more people get infected, the risk of spreading to the unvaccinated, elderly, and those with underlying diseases will be high. “The Omicron is more deadly especially for this vulnerable group.”

He added if people strictly follow all COVID-19 protocols, the outbreak can be completely contained within three weeks to a month, and a maximum of three months.

Another member of the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), Dr. Sonam Wangchuk said that the health ministry has so far done cluster testing in most of the Dzongkhags.

“With the Omicron’s transmissibility being four to five times higher than the Delta variant, we are at a heightened risk for getting the virus,” he said.  

He said that people have to be very cautious, avoid mass gatherings and use masks very diligently. “What we are seeing with the Omicron is that it is spreading faster than the Delta variant,” he said.

Meanwhile, the health ministry is optimistic about flattening the curve.

Another member of NITAG, Dr. Tshokey said, “In the past two lockdowns, we have managed to flatten the curve and come to zero community transmission. So, we are also very optimistic that if we have the required solidarity and support from the public, we will be able to fight this battle successfully.”

Further, the NITAG members also informed that Covid patients are kept in isolation for a minimum of 10 days in the current practice. The person is sent home if he/she tests negative. However, the duration of the isolation is extended if that person tests positive.

Dr Tshokey said the person released from the isolation is not infectious, and there is no risk of him/her spreading the virus to others since only a recovered person is sent home from isolation.

There are today more than 2,000 active cases of Covid-19 in the country.

Photo Courtesy: BBS

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu